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19 Alternatives to Google and Facebook Ads

Bill Murphy

Despite the recent news of boycotts, most businesses use Google and Facebook for their online advertising needs. And for a good reason. Google rakes in 3.5 billion searches a day. Facebook metrics aren’t far behind with an estimated 1.45 billion daily active users. With such a sizable potential reach, these are attractive options for most businesses, including your competitors.

The ad duopoly isn’t going anywhere soon. But for businesses that looking to experiment to find lower CPAs or opportunities to reach new audiences on mediums like SMS, video and audio, there are plenty of Google and Facebook alternatives. 

Google rakes in 3.5 billion searches a day. Facebook has 1.45 billion daily active users.

Image credit: eMarketer

In this blog post, I’ll give you an overview of 19 excellent alternatives to Google and Facebook ads. I’m not going to cover Instagram or YouTube, since they are both owned by Facebook and Google (respectively). 

Before we dive into the list, please note: putting all of your advertising eggs in a new basket probably isn’t wise. I recommend testing new channels while continuing to optimize your main channels.

In the same breath, if you find the honey hole, double down. The cost of ads on Google and Facebook continues to increase while impressions have gone down. You’re not going to find a better cost than today. 

Skip Ahead:  

Best Alternative Search Ad Networks 

Microsoft 

Formerly Bing Ads, Microsoft Advertising is one network you probably haven’t considered. Besides Bing, Microsoft Advertising includes the search inventory of AOL and Yahoo. Although AOL, Bing, and Yahoo don’t garner the same attention as Google, they still have a loyal fanbase that reaches millions. 

Bing network PC market share.

Image credit: Microsoft

Yahoo 

Yahoo (now Verizon, see more here) is the sixth most popular website globally and an attractive option for advertisers. With Yahoo, you can reach over 1 billion active users a month and target them based on age, location, and other demographic factors. Yahoo offers native and video ads across both web and mobile devices.

Yahoo offers native and video ads across both web and mobile devices.

Image credit: Verizon

Yandex 

Yandex, known as the biggest search engine in Russia, now has an English version (yandex.com). It reaches over 34 million users regardless of the type of device they are using — from laptops to desktops and every in-between. Yandex offers text and image ads, image ads, and video ads that fit most business needs. 

Yandex offers text and image ads, image ads, and video ads that fit most business needs.

Image credit: Yandex

Baidu 

Baidu is ideal for targeting Chinese customers. This search engine makes up 78% of the search engine market share in China. Baidu offers advertisers more options than just paid search, with in-feed ads and display ads being two other popular advertising options on Baidu.

The four most common ways to advertise using Baidu include:

  • Baidu Tuiguang: a pay-per-click advertising platform which is similar to Adsense or Google Adwords.
  • Pay for placement (P4P): allows you to bid on keywords to have your business website displayed prominently on the search engine results page.
  • ProTheme: available to Baidu Union members and allows the display of promotional links on specific web pages
  • Baidu TV: gives advertisers access to Baidu Union members’ websites.

Baidu offers paid search, in-feed ads and display ads.

Image credit: Digiday

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the premier platform if you want to generate B2B leads. Nearly 610 million professionals use LinkedIn, and 80% of them are key decision-makers. LinkedIn offers excellent business targeting options, including targeting specific job titles and targeting using ABM (Account-Based Marketing) focused on specific businesses.

There are three ad types on LinkedIn to fit your unique ad campaign needs: 

  • Sponsored Content appears in your newsfeed, similar to what you’d see in Facebook ads. 
  • Sponsored InMail is where you pay to send a direct message to key decision-makers. This is LinkedIn’s version of email marketing. 
  • Text Ads are simple display ads that show above and to the right of the news feed.

Sponsored InMail is where you pay to send a direct message to key decision-makers.

Sponsored messaging on LinkedIn. Image credit: LinkedIn

Twitter

Even with a smaller budget, you can attract substantial traffic and get a good return on investment (ROI) on Twitter

Twitter ads help you achieve these three main goals:

  • Grow your Twitter following
  • Drive traffic and conversions to your website
  • Generate leads

Promoted tweets convey your message in a short, efficient, and effective way.

Promoted tweets. Image credit: Twitter

Snapchat

Snapchat is ranked as the sixth most popular social media platform in the world. If your target audience includes Generation Z and Millennials, Snapchat is the perfect channel to reach them. 

The three main ways to advertise on Snapchat include: 

  • Creating branded lenses 
  • Having your own branded filter.
  • Having full-screen video Snap Ads

Snapchat is the perfect channel to reach Generation Z and Millennials.

Image credit: Snapchat

Advertising on Snapchat can help you drive traffic to your website, increase app installations and drive views for long-form video content

TikTok

TikTok is probably the most talked about media platform where users share short-form videos. The social media site brings in 1.5 billion users worldwide, 60% of whom belong to Generation Z. TikTok’s advertising platform reaches people in more than 20 markets around the world. The platform lets you create ads in various formats, targeted to specific audiences. 

TikTok's advertising platform reaches people in more than 20 markets around the world.

Image credit: TikTok

A word of caution before you dive in. The US Government has banned the Chinese company that owns TikTok from operating in the United States due to extreme privacy violations. As of this writing, Microsoft looks to be the leading candidate to purchase the US operations.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a social media site where users can ‘pin’ their favorite images across the web. Nearly 55% of Pinterest users say the platform influences their shopping decisions. 

Nearly 55% of Pinterest users say the platform influences their shopping decisions.

Image credit: ClickZ

Ninety-eight percent of Pinterest users say they’ve tried new things they found on Pinterest, versus 71 percent on other social media platforms.

Reddit 

Reddit is a forum-based website with an engaging community of users of different interests. This forum has more than 330 million monthly active users, mostly within the millennial and Gen-Z age groups, and primarily male. 

Advertising strategies include:

Brands can contribute to discussions or start subreddits.

  • Paid options include sponsored posts that show up higher on threads, subreddits, or feeds of targeted users.
  • Another paid option is native ads that will show up on Reddit feeds or on Reddit’s sidebar.

Paid options include sponsored posts that show up higher on threads, subreddits, or feeds of targeted users.

Sponsored post on Reddit. Image credit: Reddit

Reddit users (called Redditors) are notoriously against marketing. That being said, here are some critical tips before advertising on this platform:

  • Strive to build a genuine connection with users by sharing content that helps the community. 
  • Always avoid being spammy. 
  • Read all community guidelines before posting and sharing content.  

Quora 

Quora is a unique, high-intent platform you can use to target customers while customers are in the research stage of making a purchase decision. 

With Quora Ads, you can target customers based on the content they read on Quora (contextual targeting), or you can target people based on their shopping behaviors (behavioral targeting). Make sure your ads and promotional activities on Quora provide real value to the readers.

With Quora Ads, you can target customers with contextual or behavioral targeting.

Image credit: Quora

Walmart

Walmart’s online platform has 100 million monthly shoppers. Walmart Marketplace offers several advertising options to qualifying sellers. This way, you can create ads that appear when users browse relevant categories and search results.

Ads in Walmart will appear when users browse relevant categories and search results.

Image credit: Walmart

Amazon 

Amazon made up 43% of all online purchases in the US in 2016. By 2021, Amazon will bring in 50% of all online sales. 

Amazon’s ad products include sponsored products, sponsored brands, and multi-page stores. On the Amazon DSP (demand-side platform), you can experiment with display ads, video ads, custom ads, and ads.

Amazon's ad products include sponsored products, sponsored brands, and multi-page stores

Sponsored brands on Amazon. Image credit: Amazon

Perfect Audience

Perfect Audience is another retargeting solution for Facebook, Twitter, and web display ads. It works by targeting the most recent visitors to your site, who are highly likely to convert. 

You can try Perfect Audience for free for two weeks and receive a $100 credit to cover your costs.

Perfect Audience is another retargeting solution for Facebook, Twitter, and web display ads.

Facebook retargeting types. Image credit: Perfect Audience

AdRoll 

Adroll is a widely used retargeting platform that reaches audiences on Google, Facebook, Instagram, and 500+ leading networks and exchanges. According to Adroll, their clients get nearly 5xs the return on their ad spends.

Adroll’s additional services include prospecting (programmatic display), email retargeting, and AdRoll Video Ads. Video ads can be used for retargeting and prospecting campaigns and can be served in-stream and out-stream.

Adroll’s additional services include prospecting (programmatic display), email retargeting, and AdRoll Video Ads.

Image credit: AdRoll

Banner Ads

BuySellAds.com

BuySellAds.com is one of the largest networks you can use to promote your banner ads effectively. It caters to over 4,500 advertisers using native, display, email, and sponsored content placements. The platform is ideal for targeting internet and tech niches.

BuySellAds.com is one of the largest networks you can use to promote your banner ads effectively.

Image credit: BuySellAds

Podcorn

There are more than 700,000 podcasters, but just 15% are monetizing their content. Podcorn allows advertisers to create ad campaigns based on budget, ad creative and podcasts that align with their brand. Podcorn gives brands the ability to run native podcast ad campaigns at scale.

Podcorn gives brands the ability to run native podcast ad campaigns at scale.

Image credit: Podcorn

Paved 

Paved is an email newsletter ad unit that connects publishers to advertisers without having to go through an affiliate network. This is one of my favorite discoveries. It allows you to target your audience by company size, job title, industry and more through their marketplace. 

Ad Types:

  • Sponsored Email: Your content appears with regular newsletter content
  • Dedicated Email: An email that exclusively contains ad content 
  • Sponsored Content: A blog post that offers standalone value 

Paved connects publishers directly to advertisers without having to go through an affiliate network.

Image credit: Paved

Quantcast  

This platform is known for delivering AI-driven audience insights. Quantcast looks at users’ behavior across websites to build unique profiles. The program traces over 100 million online interactions, including website, video, widgets, blogs, and advertising campaigns.

With the free data and audience insights tool, Quantcast Measure, you can build your strategy, understand your audience’s behaviors and personas, and learn about competitor audiences.

With Quantcast Measure you can build your strategy, understand your audience’s behaviors and personas, and learn about competitor audiences.

Image credit: Quantcast

Navigating Ad Alternatives

While I gave you a quick overview of 19 significant ad network alternatives, you must do a bit more research on each. 

Pay attention to the platforms that your ideal client will actually be on. Then, determine what ads are most interesting to them. Be sure to set the right goals for each network and ad unit. Using this information, you should be able to create the best media mix for your omnichannel strategy.

Conclusion and Closing Thoughts

The digital advertising world is larger than you think, and I’ve barely scratched the surface! You know digital ads channels aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Be sure to do your own research into the best advertising for your business objectives. 

To wrap up, 19 alternatives to Google and Facebook ads include:

  • Microsoft 
  • Yahoo
  • Yandex
  • Baidu
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
  • Pinterest
  • Reddit
  • Quora
  • Walmart 
  • Amazon
  • Perfect Audience 
  • Adroll 
  • BuySellAds.com
  • Podcorn
  • Paved
  • Quantcast

By integrating more channels into your online advertising strategy, you will reach a larger audience, gain more sales over time, and have touch points across different networks on the web. Alternative ad networks build your reach on search engines, app stores, marketplaces, display, social media, and more.

About Author

Bill Murphy is the founder and chief strategist for Colony Spark.

Follow on Twitter @billmurphy | LinkedIn

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